Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Teagasc issue ultimatum on Knowledge Transfer scheme fees

Hundreds of farmers attended the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme open day on Christy Dowd’s farm in Ballinagare, Co Roscommon. Photo: Gerard O'Loughlin
Hundreds of farmers attended the Teagasc Green Acres Calf to Beef Programme open day on Christy Dowd’s farm in Ballinagare, Co Roscommon. Photo: Gerard O'Loughlin
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Teagasc has threatened not to process farmers' Knowledge Transfer Scheme applications unless they have paid membership fees to the State body by tomorrow (Wednesday, August 2).

In a letter seen by the Farming Independent, a Knowledge Transfer (KT) applicant with Teagasc was warned that his application for the scheme would not be processed until his membership fee was paid.

The letter states that: "In order to participate in the Knowledge Transfer Discussion Group with Teagasc you must be a current and paid up client. Your client fee of €145 is outstanding for some time. Your records cannot be submitted by Teagasc to the Department of Agriculture until your contract has been paid."

The farmer was given until tomorrow to pay. The deadline for KT scheme applications was extended until August 21 because of difficulties with the scheme.

Reacting to the letter, ICMSA president John Comer said it was wrong and totally unjustified for Teagasc to be holding people to ransom on the issue of membership fees.

Currently, the Department pays a total of €1,250 for every participant in the Knowledge Transfer (KT) groups.

ICMSA president John Comer
ICMSA president John Comer

Of this €750 is paid to the farmer, with the programme facilitators, including Teagasc, getting the remaining €500.

However, farmers who are not Teagasc clients but are in their KT groups are being charged membership fees by Teagasc of €145.

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The Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association (INHFA) accused Teagasc of charging additional fees for a service which the Department of Agriculture were already funding.

This was strongly refuted by Teagasc, who insisted the State body "only facilitates discussion groups for Teagasc clients".

A Teagasc spokesman said the €145 charge was for a club contract with the agency.

However, INHFA president Colm O'Donnell claimed farmers were not informed of the membership fees on joining the Teagasc KT groups.

"These membership fees were never outlined on the commencement of the programme and farmers only became aware of them well into the programme when they received their invoices from Teagasc," stated Mr O'Donnell.

Mr O'Donnell added that the INHFA had raised the issue with Teagasc director Professor Gerry Boyle. He called on Minister Creed to intervene and instruct Teagasc to withdraw the membership charge and reimburse those farmers who had already paid.

Indo Farming